Reviews: film

Staggering around the streets of Berlin in a boozy thriller leaves me with a hangover

Thriller: Laia Costa as the titular character Victoria

Thriller: Laia Costa as the titular character Victoria

Victoria. Roxy Cinema, Axbridge.

You spend a lot of time in lifts, cars and stumbling along pavements in Sebastian Schipper’s 2015 thriller Victoria. And there’s so much boozing that by the end I’m sure I had a hangover coming on. Played out in real time (so it is claimed in one seamless shot) the drama as a result includes a lot of dull sections while the characters talk nonsense or flirt or booze. And talking of booze the staggering around drunk late at night scenes all add unnecessary length. In short the concept is noble but it needed an editor to make it more taut, tense and tight.

Despite the sluggish and confusing start the actors create believable characters and situations on Victoria’s drunken night out. Laia Costa as the titular character throws up a perfectly good job in a Berlin café to become the only real hard nut in a robbery where the criminal gang fall prey to their own stupidity. Using largely a hand held camera the director propels the audience into the action as though we have tagged along with Victoria, bobbing and ducking in the shoot-out and swaying about in the drug and drink induced scenes.

Despite the one shot concept and realist viewpoint the moral behind the plot is simple and universal: bad things happen to those who commit crime. They may start off with a bit of light-hearted shoplifting but it ends with in kidnapping, violence and death.

For those who don’t like sub-titles or don’t speak German there’s no problem as the body language tells you everything and the characters speak in broken English and German and even snatches of Spanish. If they can muddle through and rob a bank without more a few shrugs and snatches of teutonic-anglo-saxon – then so can you. The climax is gripping, grim and gruesome – and just about worth the slow build up.

Harry Mottram

Three Stars

The film was reviewed at the Axbridge Roxy Community Cinema. For more details of their films visit www.axbridgeroxy.org.uk
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Woman in trouble: Scarlett Johansson as DeeAnna Moran

Woman in trouble: Scarlett Johansson as DeeAnna Moran

RAPSCALLION MAGAZINE – Film Review: brilliant affectionate send-up of Hollywood in the early 1950s by the Coen Brothers – screened at the Axbridge Roxy

Hail Ceasar! Axbridge Roxy.

Eddie Mannix beats the Romans, the Romans beat their slaves, and the slaves continue to live on zero hour contracts and are exploited by the bosses. Or something like that. You certainly can’t trust an extra if they are a Red. Especially when they kidnap a Roman and extract $100,000 from the moguls of Hollywood.

The Coen Brothers’ (Joel and Ethan) movie Hail Ceasar! takes us back to the early 1950s and the world of Hollywood where their protagonist Catholic guilt obsessed Eddie Mannix worked as a fixer, producer and professional cover-upper. Except the Coen Brothers turn him into a hero who tries his best to keep the movie industry ticking over whilst resisting an easier job in the aviation business. What a pack of nonsense should you check out the real history of Mannix. But at the same time what an enjoyable romp through the dying days of Hollywood before the onset of TV.

Geezer: Josh Brolin as fixer Mannix

Geezer: Josh Brolin as fixer Mannix

Hail Ceasar! is pure satire as it pokes fun at all things lit and filmed by the movie industry of the time. Looking his age, George Clooney is the heroic idiot taken in by the ridiculously moustached Communist circle at the beach side house. Ralph Fiennes as the exasperated director Laurence Laurentz and Tida Simpson as the twin gossip columnists Thora and Thessaly Thacker excel in their facial contortions, exasperated body language and elegant hats and cravats. And then there’s Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich) the Roy Rogers parody who rescues Clooney from the Commies in a tightly packed plot filled with excellent set pieces including a Gene Kelly naval tribute.

On the town: Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) looked like Gene Kelly

On the town: Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) looked like Gene Kelly

So many beautifully work scenes, so many fabulous costumes and so many brilliantly observed slices of Hollywood in an age long gone. Just don’t believe the story and accept it for what it is, an affectionate send-up of Hollywood.

Harry Mottram

Four stars

More at www.harrymottram.co.uk and on Facebook, Twitter and God knows where else!

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The Talented Mr Ripley: love Rome in saturated colour and Gwyneth Paltrow’s coats but it’s all about being Simon

The-Talented-Mr-Ripley

The Talented Mr Ripley

I was on my way to the bus stop when I bumped into Simon. “Hi Simon,” I said, “how’s it going?” “Good,” replied Simon looking slightly startled, “new job and things are fine.” “College seems such a long time ago now,” I said, “I’ve just started a new job as well, in Queens’ Square. Still better get going, late for the bus, we should meet up one lunchtime.” “Nice idea,” he said and we parted. I walked ten yards up the road and thought he knew that I knew that he wasn’t the Simon I knew at college but seeing my initial conviction decided that perhaps he was Simon even though he wasn’t.

Belief. If you believe hard enough anything seems possible and so it was in The Talented Mr Ripley. Except in the Academy Award nominated 1999 film directed by Anthony Minghella, Matt Damon as the eponymous Ripley (me) and Jude Law was Dickie Greenleaf (Simon). I’m not sure who was Gwyneth Paltrow but like the film the moment with the non-Simon Simon, conviction that you are someone else is everything.

It was great to the Spanish Steps in Rome without thousands of holiday makers sitting down exhausted by the constant battle to every ruin in three days and tired looking men selling wilting roses in the suspense-filled thriller. And the saturated colour of a recreated 1950s Italy along with the numerous half-misunderstood conversations that slowly strip away Mr Ripley’s disguise were equally enjoyable. But the real star was the premise itself: with enough confidence it is possible to believe someone is Simon. Or rather Dickie Greenleaf, as Ripley attempts to steal Jude Law’s identity.

Ron Trilby

5 Stars

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Parents are such an inconvenience (especially when they drop dead) in Ozu’s daughter-from-hell story

Happy trio: Shūkichi and Tomi Hirayama with Noriko, their kind daugher-in-law

Happy trio: Shūkichi and Tomi Hirayama with Noriko, their kind daugher-in-law

Tokyo Story (1953)

She’s bossy, selfish and out for herself. And if you drop dead she’ll go through your stuff in an instance to see what she can have for free. Meek and mild Shūkichi and Tomi Hirayama didn’t deserve Shige Kaneko as a daughter.

Daughter from hell: Haruko Sugimura is less than welcoming to her parents

Daughter from hell: Haruko Sugimura is less than welcoming to her parents

In Yasujirō Ozu’s 1953 movie Tokyo Story the elderly couple visit their grown-up children in a simple but symbolic story of unhappy family life set in post war Japan. Death camps, torture, mass rape and genocide are not mentioned by a generation that knew all about the horrors. Instead the wartime generation are too busy with their lives to think about the past but they can’t quite exorcise the ghosts of World War II along with memories of Hirayama’s second son Shōji who died in the conflict. Shūkichi and Tomi urge his widow and their daughter-in-law the saintly Noriko to remarry, and to hide her wedding photograph and pretend her husband didn’t exist. But the war creeps back into this portrayal of post war Tokyo through the subtle symbolism of a collective amnesia. It’s replaced by a booming and busy Japan that rings to the sound of construction and industry. The trains run on time and the city is alive with cars, telephones, shoppers and workers.

Unhappy family: the story is about a visit of an elderly couple to Tokyo

Unhappy family: the story is about a visit of an elderly couple to Tokyo

Retired couple Shūkichi and Tomi Hirayama visit their grown-up children in the capital, but they are disappointed that they are considered an inconvenience by their offspring and so after a couple of excursions decide to go home. Why they’d want to visit the ghastly Shige is a mystery as she makes it clear they are only welcome for about ten minutes and after that are in the way. Her grumpy husband isn’t much better and their spoilt kids make awkward moments even more excruciating. It’s compulsive viewing as the embarrassing moments pile up. Only Noriko their daughter-in-law and widow of Shōji is kind and attentive, representing a vision of perfection: if only she could have been their real daughter.

Busy city: the war is forgotten in booming Tokyo

Busy city: the war is forgotten in booming Tokyo

On the way home Tomi takes ill and dies – another inconvenience for the family. Exasperated that they must give up more time the selfish grown-up children attend the funeral in bad grace and the daughter from hell helps herself to her late mother’s silk kimonos before jumping on the first train back to Tokyo.

Angel face: the saintly Noriko is the saving grace of the family as she helps the elderly couple with warmth and good grace

Angel face: the saintly Noriko is the saving grace of the family as she helps the elderly couple with warmth and good grace

Viewed via Ozu’s knee-high interior camera angle each scene is like a carefully composed painting in which the trials and tribulations of universal family life are played out – along with a subtext of ‘don’t mention the war’ – Japan has moved on.

Tokyo Story (1953) Directed by Yasujirō Ozu. Written by Kōgo Noda and Yasujirō Ozu. Cinematography by Yūharu Atsuta. With Chishū Ryū as Shūkichi Hirayama, Chieko Higashiyama as Tomi Hirayama, Setsuko Hara as Noriko Hirayama, Haruko Sugimura as Shige Kaneko, Sō Yamamura as Kōichi Hirayama, and Kuniko Miyake as Fumiko Hirayama. 136 mins. Review: Harry Mottram. Five stars.